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Labral Tears

The shoulder joint is similar to the hip as they are both ball and socket joints. The shoulder joint’s socket is very shallow though, which inherently makes the shoulder joint unstable. This means that extra support in the shoulder is needed as the shoulder bones aren’t held in place adequately.shoulder-labrum-tear

The labrum is what compensates for the shallow socket the shoulder joint has. The labrum is a cuff of cartilage that forms a cup for the end of the arm bone (the humerus) to move around in. The labrum circles the shallow shoulder socket (the glenoid) to make the socket deeper. This cuff of cartilage allows the shoulder to have a wide range of movements, while at the same time being more stable.

What is a labral tear?

The labrum is a thick tissue and can be injured by trauma to the shoulder joint. As a person ages, the labrum becomes more brittle and the aging process can cause fraying or tears. When someone has an injured shoulder, it’s possible it is a labral tear.

Labral Tear Symptoms

Labral tear symptoms depend on where the tear is located, but could include:

  • Pain with specific activities
  • An aching sensation in the shoulder joint
  • Catching of the shoulder with no movement

Some types of labral tears can increase the potential for shoulder dislocations, such as a Bankart lesion.

Common Types of Labral Tears

slap-lesion-bankart-tear

  • Posterior Labral Tears: Posterior labral tears are less common, but are sometimes seen in athletes in a condition called internal impingement. This syndrome causes the rotator cuff and labrum to be pinched together in the back of the shoulder.
  • SLAP Tears: A SLAP tear is most commonly seen in athletes that play overhead throwing sports, such as baseball or tennis. In a SLAP tear, the labrum tears at the top of the shoulder socket where the bicep tendon attaches to the shoulder.
  • Bankart Lesions: A Bankart lesion occurs when a shoulder dislocates. The labrum is torn when the shoulder out of the joint, and makes the shoulder more susceptible to future dislocations.

Labral Tear Treatment

There are different treatments for different types of labral tears, depending on the type of tear that has occurred. Most types of labral tears don’t require any type of surgery, although patients who have persistent symptoms may need surgery.